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Augusta County: Mary A. Smiley to Thomas M. Smiley, May 30, 1861

Discussion of mobilization, national election, and civilian division over secession. Describes women's sewing activities for the troops.

May 30th 1861

Dear Brother

I take my pen in hand this morning to write you a few lines We are all well except ma who has headache she had intended writing you but is not well enough. It is said here that the Southern Guard's have left for Wheeling which I hope will prove a false report We all will not feel as well satisfied as before if it proves true that you have left Harpers Ferry. Old Jimmy Cambell has got down he came in a few minutes ago he says they dont like to stay at the poor house that his sister Sallie is not well has had sore throat and consumption again. He looks the same old Jimmy with his head proped up with his dickey and a great scaf on his face. We have been making tents at Newport this week there was some 20 or more there yesterday and the day before sewing at them We made four at Newport I expect there will be big doings at Newport Saturday it is expected to raise a secession flag then. You would certainly have laughed had you seen the way Mr B. Beard was pestered for a 50 cent piece to help pay for the flag but he wouldn't give any for to get a flag but would give double if they would not put it up. The ladies of Providence in Rockbridge are making uniforms this week for a company that has lately been formed Rockbridge guards Capt Curry It is desired they shall be fitted out this week in order that they may go under command of a Christian Colonel & Lieut Colonel The election has passed and as far as heard from is said to have been the most orderly & quiet for a great while Augusta has 10 votes against ratification at Newport none was cast but I believe there would have been that many polled had the unionists voted

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Hutchens are all unionists I believe even to the women Some of us got to arguing with Eliza yesterday but we might as well have tried to make her believe that the sun shines here in the night as to make a secessionist of her, and this is the way with all the unionists Tell John Beard he must try to make a secessionist of his father and Sam. I believe I have but little more to write not knowing whether you are still at Harpers Ferry although I hope you will still be posted there now that that place is fortified it will appear hard to have to leave at least for abolitionist Wheeling

I want you to tell me whose mess Kes Kerr is in No doubt you would be greatly surprised to see him as much so as his leave was sudden. Ma says if you have any thing rather private to write home to write on a slip of paper and put it in as your letters are read or heard by a great many every one is anxious to hear the news from the camp also if you want any thing from home to say so and tell right out it appears to us as if we ought to send some thing but we dont know what you want We would be very sorry if you want or need any thing, and we have it, not to know, so that we might sent it now we wish to know whether you do, and if so, what, as we have had plenty of opportunities and will have if you are or will still be at Harpers Ferry. Capt Hite talks of taking the tents to you in his wagon free of expense if you are sill at the Ferry will probably start Saturday if he goes. The stamps which we we sent you will not do you much good unless you have them used up before the first of June as postage will then be five cents Pa got a great parcel of stamped envelops but will send them back so that we will not lose any thing by it. Thomas have you received your secession badge yet Hannah was telling us that she had made one for you but Ma told her she ought not to have done it as it would be a mark for the enemy to shoot at. You must excuse all these mistakes scratches & blotches in this nor you must not criticise it so closely as you used to do

I remain your affectionate sister

Mary A Smiley

P/S/ Ma has the headache very bad is scarcely able to be of bed I shall direct this to Harpers Ferry notwithstanding the report that you have gone to Wheeling I suppose if so it will be forwarded to that place

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